Opponents of LGBT equality have recently been trying to justify the discrimination they promote by claiming that wedding vendors should not have to “participate” in same-sex wedding ceremonies — i.e., sell the same service to same-sex couples that they do different-sex couples. This, they argue, is a matter of religious freedom, not discrimination.
Enter Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec, an auto repair shop in Grandville, Michigan. This week, he publicly took to Facebook to lay out some new policies for Dieseltec customers. First, guns are not only welcome at Dieseltec, but customers who bring their guns with them will get a discount — except for on-duty cops, because they didn’t personally pay for the guns they carry.
Secondly, Klawiter is a Christian, which means he will not welcome dishonesty, thievery, nor immoral behavior — particularly homosexuality. “I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons,” he wrote. “Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.”
When WOOD TV reached out, Klawiter stood by his post without regret: “If you want to come in here with your boyfriend and you want to openly display that, that’s just not going to be tolerated here. We don’t believe that here.” He said that he won’t be inquiring about customers’ sexual orientation, but he hopes that gay people figure out not to come into his shop.
It’s not clear that Klawiter has actually refused service to someone for their identity yet, but if he ever does, he will likely face no consequences. Michigan has no statewide LGBT nondiscrimination protections, nor does the city of Grandville. And Klawiter definitely doesn’t want such a law, explaining, “I’ve chosen to put God first in my life and that he owns everything in me and my business and beyond. Since that becomes a priority, I can’t sacrifice on those morals.”
Despite not responding to a wedding ceremony, Klawiter’s rhetoric mirrors that of the wedding vendors who have refused cakes, flowers, photography, planning, and venues to same-sex couples, even those who otherwise sell non-wedding products to gay people. In all cases, they have argued that their religious beliefs are the reason for their discrimination; Klawiter just happens to be a bit more candid about how his beliefs are motivating his intentions — and more comprehensive about how he’s applying them.
Hopes for LGBT protections in Michigan are a bit stagnant. Back in the fall, it seemed there was even enough support from Republican leadership to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Support among Democrats splintered after transgender protections were dropped, but it ultimately didn’t matter. Republican lawmakers instead prioritized a pro-discrimination “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), just like the legislation that provoked a national backlash in neighboring Indiana. None of those bills passed before the session ended. Now, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) says that he will veto any stand-alone version of RFRA that didn’t also include LGBT protections, but there’s no indication that this is actually helping the latter advance.
Mirroring the support for Indiana’s Memories Pizza, a GoFundMe page has already been started to support Dieseltec. As of publication of this post, only five dollars have been donated — from a woman in a same-sex marriage and mother of three who asks, “Will you except [sic] my money? Or is it too gay for you?” (Shortly after this post was published, the campaign was taken down.)
Cummins, Inc, a Fortune 500 company that manufactures engines, has notified Dieseltec not to use its logo on the shop’s webpage.
Klawiter posted a follow-up message on Facebook Thursday morning:
Listen up folks, If you have an opposing view to mine that IS OK, what is NOT OK is threats to kill me, my family, and friends; threats to burn down my shop and my home. I will stand firm on my views and will not back down, (There also seems to be a TON of confusion about one of my comments, the bolt and nut thing was a reference to physiology, bolt penis and nut vagina. I DID NOT threaten to purposely put a vehicle together wrong to harm someone.) I also am not asking for anyone to do the gofundme postings. We are a successful business and are blessed to be able to feed our families. If there is any money raised it will be redistributed to people with greater needs than ours.